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The Fifth Quarter: Week 7 Rewind

Missouri v Georgia Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WINNERS

Missouri: The Showed You State
Everybody who thought that, after Week 7 of the season, Missouri would be unbeaten and all alone in first place in the SEC East raise your hands.  Now, put ‘em down as all y’all are lying.  Yet that’s exactly where Gary Pinkel‘s Tigers find themselves Sunday morning, sporting a spotless 6-0 record overall and an East-best 2-0 mark in SEC play thanks to their win over Georgia coupled with Florida’s loss to LSU.  Yes, Mizzou’s win came at the expense of the injury-ravaged Bulldogs, but it was huge for the Tigers regardless of the circumstances and how it’s couched as the win over No. 7 UGA was the program’s first against a Top-10 team on the road since dropping No. 9 Mississippi State in October of 1981.  Let’s not pop any SEC East champagne for Mizzou quite yet, however.  The next two weeks — without starting quarterback James Franklin — the Tigers will host Florida and South Carolina in back-to-back games that could very well determine the division’s representative in the SEC championship game.  And, no, I never thought I’d be typing that sentence in relation to Mizzou, especially after a debut season in the SEC that saw the Tigers win just two conference games (Kentucky, Tennessee).

Super Mariota… again
I’m fully aware of the fact that the Heisman is not handed out in the middle of October, but, dayum.  In six games this season, Marcus Mariota has thrown for 17 touchdowns, ran for another eight… and has thrown zero interceptions in 165 attempts.  And, as if tossing down the stiff-armed gauntlet, Mariota went out Saturday and had his finest performance of the season, all things considered.  Against a Washington defense that came into the game with Oregon ranked No. 3 nationally in passing efficiency defense, Mariota carved said defense to the tune of 24-of-31 passing for 366 yards and three touchdowns.  For good measure, he added 88 yards rushing and another score.  Again, they don’t hand out the Heisman at this time of the year.  The award does, though, have a front-runner and Mariota is decidedly that.

Texas-sized Big 12 leader
It goes without saying that Texas’ 16-point beatdown of Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout qualifies as a stunner, what with the Longhorns having lost the last two rivalry games by a combined total of 80 points… and how they’ve been mired in mediocrity the past few years… and how Mack Brown‘s tenure is seemingly coming to a close.  It’s when you step back and look at the bigger picture, though, that you get the biggest jolt.  The Longhorns are currently one of three Big 12 teams with no losses in conference play, and are tied atop the standings at 3-0 with Texas Tech.  Baylor, which looked unstoppable against the lightweights on its schedule, was positively beatable on the road against Kansas State in its first real test of the season, although the Bears survived to remain that third unbeaten Big 12 team at 2-0.  Did the Longhorns save their season — and Brown’s job — Saturday?  It’s still too early to tell, especially with games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor to close out the regular season still looming.  For now, though, the Golden Hat — and control of its own destiny in the Big 12’s race to the BCS — resides in Austin.

A Mannion’s man
Were it not for a three-point season-opening loss to Eastern Washington, Oregon State would very likely be a Twp-20 team at the moment.  And Sean Mannion might be getting the respect nationally he deserves.  Entering the game against Washington State Saturday night, the Beavers quarterback led the nation in passing yards per game (403.6) and passing touchdowns (21) through five games.  In his sixth game, Mannion did nothing but elevate his standing in both of those categories.  In helping OSU push its record to 5-1, Mannion passed for a season-high 493 yards and added four more touchdown passes as the Beavers cruised to a 52-24 win over Wazzu.  OSU, and thus Mannion, have yet to face a high-profile opponent, which has in large part led to the lack of recognition outside of Corvallis.  With games against Stanford (Oct. 26), Washington (Nov. 23) and the Civil War with Oregon (Nov. 29), Mannion will have plenty of opportunity to state his case nationally.  Provided he can rise to that level of competition, of course.

Brian FantanaBOB’s Big Ones
Bill O’Brien had already seen four missed field goals from the end of regulation through the first three overtimes against Michigan, including one off the foot of his own kicker.  Down by three and facing a fourth and one, O’Brien eschewed the field goal attempt that would’ve sent the game into a fifth overtime and instead grabbed his James Westfall and Doctor Kenneth Noisewater.  A Bill Belton three-yard run got the first down and, four plays later, Belton scooted across from two yards out to knock the Wolverines from the ranks of the unbeatens.  O’Brien should be applauded for both having the guts to make that call at that juncture and for his awareness of the energy that had been expended by his Nittany Lions creating a need to not extend the game.

Rebounding with a vengeance
Just 10 days ago, Travis Wilson had a six-pack of picks that was largely responsible for Utah’s seven-point loss to No. 11 UCLA.  Against No. 5 Stanford, the Utes quarterback went out and totally redeemed himself.  While he threw another interception, Wilson was otherwise outstanding, completing 23-of-34 passes for 234 yards and a pair of critical first-quarter touchdowns that put the unbeaten Cardinal on notice… and helped drop them from undefeated and controlling their own destiny to one of the myriad one-loss teams that will need help getting back in the national title hunt.  Redemption is an awe-inspiring thing, especially when it’s a college kid on the receiving end one game later against one of the best teams in the country.

Riding the Green Wave
Coming off a disastrous two-win 2012 season, there were some calling for the head of head coach Curtis Johnson after just one year at Tulane.  Nearly a year later, those same people are very likely singing Johnson’s praises.  You see, the Green Wave has won five of its first seven games this season, including a thrilling triple-overtime win over East Carolina Saturday evening.  It’s the first time since 2004 that Tulane has won more than four games in a single season, and the Green Wave still has five games remaining to win one game and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2002.  On top of all of that, Tulane is tied for the Conference USA West lead with Rice.  The individuals wanting Johnson gone last year may get their wish 12 months late; thanks to Tulane’s play, Johnson’s name will likely come up for various vacancies across the country in the coming months.

Army strongTerry Baggett , Donald Coleman
Yeah, I’ll go ahead and say it: Terry Baggett does more before 3 p.m. than most running backs do all season.  Or something like that.  In the Black Knights’ 50-25 win over Eastern Michigan, the junior rushed for 304 yards on just 18 carries and added four scores on the ground for good measure.  Baggett came into the matchup with 440 yards and two touchdowns in the first six games of the season.  The 304 yards are an academy record, part of which came on a 96-yard touchdown run.  In closing, go Baggett and go ‘Merica…

LOSERS

Nov. 7
That day on the football calendar was shaping up to be arguably the best and most important Thursday in college football history.  Oregon at Stanford and Oklahoma at Baylor had most prognosticators pointing to it during the preseason as the day where the chase for the BCS would really begin to take shape.  Now?  Not so much thanks to Oklahoma’s blowout loss to Texas and Stanford’s stunning loss on the road to Utah.  Those games will still be important, especially as it pertains to the respective conference races, but it has certainly lost a lot of luster as far as the national stage is concerned because of Saturday’s events.

Bears are human after all
Through the first four games of its season, Baylor was the darling of the national media.  Averaging a nation’s best 781 yards per game (Oregon was next at 630) and scoring 70-plus points a contest, the Bears were the shiny thing dangled in front of a giddy toddler.  Of course, those gaudy stats came against Wofford, Buffalo, Louisiana-Monroe and West Virginia.  In their first real test of the season against Kansas State?  The gaudy numbers dissipated, but the winning didn’t.  The Bears were held to season-lows in total offense (445 yards), rushing (114) and points (35), but still managed to go into always-tough Manhattan and escape back to Waco with a 10-point conference win over the Wildcats.  The Bears may have been exposed, and K-State may have provided a blueprint for future Big 12 opponents to at least slow down the high-powered attack, but they showed a resiliency they haven’t needed all season long.  And that might be more impressive than any of the video game-like numbers they had put up through the first one-third of the regular season.

South Carolina v ArkansasKarma indeed
Very shortly after Wisconsin’s controversial loss to Arizona State in mid-September, Jen Bielema, the wife of former UW and current Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, tweeted “#karma” in the general direction of the Badgers and their fans.  While I’m certain it’s merely coincidence — or the “k” word — the Razorbacks, after winning their first three games pre-tweet, have now lost four straight since Mrs. Bielema typed out the five-letter word and sent it hurtling out into the Twittersphere.  Punctuating the losing streak was Saturday’s humbling 45-point loss to South Carolina, the third straight SEC loss for Bielema by a combined total of 77 points.  Strong with this one, the karma is.

The Lane Kiffin Error Era
If you wanted to sum up Lane Kiffin‘s time at USC, these five words would just about do it: “The players have hope now.”  Those were the words of USC athletic director Pat Haden, and they came shortly after the Trojans upended Arizona in the USC interim debut of Ed Orgeron.  It was far from pretty, but there was an exuberance, an excitement that had been lacking for years under Kiffin and, to be honest, under the weight of NCAA sanctions.  Pulling the plug on Kiffin’s tenure as head coach was seen as a necessary move.  And, as it turns out, it was a refreshing one for the entire program as well. “You should have been in the locker room before the game, I’ve never seen anything like it. Guys were having a blast,” Haden, again, said afterwards.  The win was one thing; the words coming from those in and around the football program were a damning indictment of everything that’s gone in in the Land of Troy the past three-plus seasons, even if it did humble the Arrogant One.

Airror Force
The Air Force football program has officially hit rock bottom.  Leading San Diego State by 14 with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter Thursday night, the Falcons gave up 21 straight points in a 10-minute span to snatch defeat from the jaws of defeat.  The service academy is now 1-6, its worst start since going 1-6 to begin the 1993 season.  With an Oct. 26 game against Notre Dame on the horizon, the Falcons could very well be staring in the face of their worst start to a season since going 1-6-1 in 1980.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

– No. 3 Clemson 24, Boston College 14: The Tigers needed 14 fourth-quarter points to avoid an infamous Clemsoning.  We’ll just chalk this up to looking ahead to the titanic matchup with Florida State next weekend and move on.

– No. 8 Louisville 24, Rutgers 10: Thanks to a pillowy soft schedule, the Cardinals need to take its opponents to the woodshed each and every time they step on the field.  That didn’t happen Thursday night, which has caused some to already write off the UofL’s BCS title game hopes.  While that’s debatable, the Cardinals will likely see themselves lose ground in the polls again this week.

Texas A&M v Mississippi– No. 9 Texas A&M 41, Ole Miss 38: In a wildly entertaining game, the Aggies needed a field goal as time expired to stay unbeaten on the road under Kevin Sumlin.  Of course, the win was due in large part to Johnny Football, who totaled 470 yards of total offense (346 passing, 124 rushing) in a performance that will keep him in the Heisman repeat mix.  That defense, though, is still an area of major concern and will likely bite the Aggies again at some point before the regular season ends.

– No. 15 Baylor 35, Kansas State 25: The Bears needed a real test and, after a hiccup up or two that nearly cost them an unblemished record.  the Waco Kids earned a passing grade.

– No. 20 Texas Tech 42, Iowa State 35:  The Red Raiders muddled through the first three quarters against the one-win Cyclones, tied at halftime and leading by just a touchdown entering the fourth.  Tech did, though, become the first bowl-eligible team in the Big 12 so they have that going for them, which is good.

– No. 23 Northern Illinois 27, Akron 20:  Hey, the one-win Zips nearly knocked off Michigan in the Big House earlier this year.  It happens.

– No. 24 Virginia Tech 19, Pittsburgh 9: I’m putting this game here solely to highlight the Hokies’ defense as Tech allowed the Panthers just 23 yards rushing on 26 carries.  All told, Pitt was only able to must 210 yards of offense against a team that’s quietly ripped off six straight wins since its 25-point loss to Alabama to open the season.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Monday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Alabama — After a scoreless first quarter against Kentucky, I very nearly dropped the Tide below Oregon.  Then the second quarter and on happened and my goodness did the Tide roll, putting up 668 yards of offense and 48 points in a 41-point throttling of the Wildcats. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Arkansas

Oregon v Washington2. Oregon — Even with Alabama rolling (eventually) against a below-average Kentucky team, I was still (very) tempted to allow the Ducks to leapfrog the consensus No. 1 team in the country thanks to the virtuoso performance against arguably the best two-loss team in the country in Washington.  I couldn’t pull the trigger this week, but can’t promise a repeat if the Ducks continue mowing down the competition. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. Washington State

3. Clemson — Despite eking by a very average Boston College team in Clemson’s version of Death Valley, the Tigers are still a very good football team.  Get a huge win over you-know-how Saturday, and they’ll elbow themselves right into the Alabama-Oregon mix. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. No. 6 Florida State

4. Ohio State — The Buckeyes were on a bye, and may benefit somewhat in the polls thanks to Clemson’s sleepwalk against BC.  Northwestern getting throttled by Wisconsin and Michigan losing to Penn State, however, is very bad long-term for OSU. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Iowa

5. Florida State — The Cardinal’s loss is the Seminoles’ gain.  A bye week for FSU allowed them to heal up for its Game of the Century against you-know-who Saturday. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at No. 3 Clemson

(Dropped from the rankings: No. 5 Stanford)

HE SAID IT
“I do feel badly for Arkansas. That’s no fun getting your butt beat at home, homecoming and all that.” — Steve Spurrier, after South Carolina went into Fayetteville and spanked the Razorbacks 52-7.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“We sit back and let y’all bash us and bash our coaches. … There comes a time when you put a chip on your shoulder.” — Texas quarterback Case McCoy.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I’m looking forward to the next 30 minutes, because the first 30 minutes sucked.” — Pat Fitzgerald, after watching Northwestern fall behind Wisconsin 21-6 in the first half.  The next 30 minutes weren’t much better for the Wildcats as the final score ended up 35-6.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“Yeah, playing your ass off.” — Texas co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Major Applewhite, when asked if an offensive identity had emerged for the Longhorns.

HE SAID IT, LES MILES EDITION
[See extended version below]

PHOTO OF THE WEEK
As a huge fan of NASCAR, count me among those who were absolutely thrilled with the reports that a future Tennessee-Virginia Tech game will be played at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Having been to that short track — the August night race should be on any sports fan’s bucket list — I can see exactly how and why both the track and the schools would want to play in the modern-day motorized Colosseum.  Have you wondered, though, what it will look like?  Thanks to @NeylandStadium, we have a little perspective:

Bristol Neyland

That, folks, is Neyland Stadium sitting inside the .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.  And that, folks, is freaking spectacular, even as I understand that some/most of the sight lines and vantage points won’t be optimal compared to playing in a stadium designed for football.

That said, I absolutely cannot wait to see — and possibly be a part of — that atmosphere.

Oh, and before you ask, no, ball carriers won’t be allowed to only make cuts to the left in that game.

SAY WHAT?
For the first time in the football program’s storied history, Alabama had a 300-yard passer (AJ McCarron‘s career-high 359 yards) and two 100-yard rushers (T.J. Yeldon, 16-124-2; Kenyan Drake, 14-106-2) in the same game.

TRUE STORY
From the Clemson Sports Information Department: Clemson’s defense held the nation’s leading rusher in Andre Williams to just 70 yards rushing and a 2.9 yards-per-carry average. He had entered the game averaging 153.6 rushing yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– Thanks to losses by Michigan, Oklahoma and Stanford, there are now 14 teams at the FBS level with no losses this season.  The ACC has the most unbeatens at this juncture with three (Clemson, Florida State and Miami), while the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC have two apiece.  On the flip side, and with UMass dropping still winless Miami (Ohio), there are eight teams remaining who have yet to win a game in 2013.  Two of the Unfortunate Octet reside in the American Athletic Conference.

Boston College v Clemson– Clemson’s Tajh Boyd threw for 334 yards in the close win over Boston College to become the all-time leader in passing yards in Clemson history with 9,836 yards. He also moved in to fourth place in ACC history in the same category and into second place in carer 300-yard passing games (14).

Brett Hundley passed for 409 yards and three touchdowns to help unbeaten UCLA to a 37-10 win over Cal.

– Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery accounted for 296 all-purpose yards: 160 on kickoff returns, 131 receiving and five rushing.

– Jonathan Gray rushed for 123 yards and Malcolm Brown for 120 in Texas’ win over Oklahoma; it marked the first time UT has seen two players go over the century mark against OU.

– Washington’s Bishop Sankey, who entered the game fourth nationally in rushing yards per game at 146.4, rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Oregon.

– Louisiana Monroe’s Isaiah Newsome became just the second player in Sun Belt Conference history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. The senior also broke the SBC record for interception return yardage in a single game with 146.

– Playing in place of the injured Baker MayfieldDavis Webb threw for 415 yards and three TDs in leading Texas Tech over Iowa State 42-35.

David Fales passed for 431 yards and three touchdowns in San Jose State’s 34-27 win over Colorado State.

– Coming off a concussion, Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage was sacked eight times in the loss to Virginia Tech.

– Utah’s win over No. 5 Stanford was the Utes’ first-ever over a team that entered the game ranked in the Top Five.  It was also the program’s first win over a team in the Top 10 since 1973.

– Florida extended its streak of holding SEC opponents under 20 points to 13 straight games against LSU, the longest in the conference.  Unfortunately, while the Gators held the Tigers to 17, they were held to six in the loss.

– Very enlightening stat from Jon Solomon of al.com: the past 14 games, Auburn has started five different quarterbacks.  Alabama has started three different quarterbacks the past 80 games.  Speaking of the Tigers…

– Auburn rolled up a school-record 712 yards of total offense in the Tigers’ 62-3 win over FCS-level Western Carolina.  Included in that total was 511 yards rushing on 43 carries, with nine different players credited with carries.

– Michigan State came into its game against Indiana as the No. 1 rush defense in the country, giving up an average of 51.2 yards per game; on the fourth play from scrimmage, the Hoosiers’ Tevin Coleman raced 64 yards right up the gut for a touchdown.  The rest of the game, however, the Spartans allowed just 28 yards on 26 carries in the 42-28 win.

– USF hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown the last two games… and have won both of those contests.  They are the first team ever at the FBS level to pull that trick in back-to-back weeks.

– Northern Illinois has now won 23 straight games at home, the longest such streak in the country.

– In a shout-out to the FCS, Fordham is 6-0 for the first time in a staggering 83 years.

IN CLOSING…
Les Miles
has, how shall we say it, a very unique and special relationship with the English language.  As the latest — and one of the best — example of that relationship, we leave you with the following transcript courtesy of CoachingSearch.com — the video’s HERE — in which Miles responds to a reporter stating that Florida was the hammer and LSU was the nail last season, with the roles being reversed this year.  Enjoy, and good night y’all:

“I’ve got a question for you. It was a 14-6 game. We played our asses off. How anybody could pick the hammer and the nail, when in fact, that hammer or nail, we catch a ball down there, we’re fixing to take the lead, and we turn it over. Explain to me how Kevin Minter, who set the damn near career tackle record in that game, how anybody could say hammer and nail?

“I can tell you right now, here’s what happens: Two very quality teams take the field and compete like a son of a bitch for victory. You know what? It’s not a hammer and a nail relationship. It’s an opportunity for an opponent to be equal and to raise their level of play in such a fashion that they win. That’s how this thing works. In fact, you respect the opponent. He’s not the hammer and he’s not the frickin’ nail, OK? He’s the opponent. You understand?

“I’m just letting you know, I resent that. I resent the fact that suddenly, we were nail, you got it? Honest to Pete. We were a pretty good team last year. I thought we played like a son of a bitch in that stadium. I’m just letting you know, I felt differently than the nail, so you know.”

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Old Dominion, North Texas made Conference USA history on Saturday

It was a record-breaking day for a pair of Conference USA teams on Saturday. In Houston, Old Dominion defeated Rice 45-42, thereby giving the Monarchs their first win in Conference USA play.

Taylor Heinicke led the way for Old Dominion, connecting on 27-of-43 throws for 430 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. The Monarchs built a 28-14 lead at the half and extended it to 35-14, but saw Rice fight back to tie the game at 42-42 on a seven-yard Darik Dillard touchdown run with 1:05 to play. Heinicke responded by marching Old Dominion 67 yards in six plays, setting Ricky Segers up for a 25-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.

Considering this was also their first Conference USA game, Old Dominion now has a C-USA record 1.000 winning percentage. The program restarted football in 2009 after shuttling football in 1941, and has gone 49-15 under head coach Bobby Wilder in its six-year rise from the FCS independent ranks to Conference USA.

Old Dominion has a chance to keep its 1.000 winning percentage alive Friday night at home versus Middle Tennessee (8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1).

As for real, official records, North Texas tied a C-USA record by notching 77 points in its 77-3 annihilation of FCS Nicholls State on Saturday. The 74-point margin of victory was North Texas’ biggest since 1948, and its 10 sacks of Colonels passers tied a school record.

Freshman Dajon Williams made his first start at quarterback and could not have had an easier debut, completing 11-of-14 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns and rushing four times for 68 yards and two touchdowns. The Mean Green averaged 11.9 yards per pass attempt and 8.5 yards per rush, and also notched two pick sixes and one punt return for a touchdown.

Ironically, the Conference USA single-game points record North Texas tied was set against… North Texas. Rice set the record back in 2008 by demolishing then-Sun Belt member North Texas 77-20.

North Texas is off this week before visiting SEC killer Indiana on Oct. 4.

 

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Rutgers loses star RB Paul James for the year

Paul James

Rutgers is off to a strong 3-1 start to its first Big Ten season, and that’s in part because running back Paul James was off to such a strong start to his junior season. The Scarlet Knights, however, will have to play the final two-thirds of their season without him as head coach Kyle Flood confirmed Sunday James has been lost for the season to a torn ACL.

James had carried seven times for 96 yards and a touchdown until the helmet of a Navy defender collided with James’ right knee at the end of a 13-yard run during the second quarter on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights won, 31-24, but James was not seen again throughout the day. As it turns out, that will unfortunately be the last anyone sees of James in a Rutgers uniform this season.

James entered the day as the Big Ten’s fifth-leading rusher, and finishes his season with 63 carries for 363 yards (5.76 yards per pop) with five touchdowns. He started the year with a 173-yard, three-touchdown performance, leading the Scarlet Knights to a 41-38 win at Washington State. James rushed for 881 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago while playing on a broken fibula.

Rutgers will now turn to Desmon Peoples (46 rushes, 205 yards) and Justin Goodwin (26 carries, 104 yards, one touchdown) to carry its ground game for the duration of the season.

Rutgers hosts Tulane on Saturday (12 p.m. ET, ESPNews).

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Upset loss, press conference ripping makes Mizzou-South Carolina an awkward GameDay host

Indiana v Missouri

For the first time since 2006, ESPN’s College GameDay has waited until Week 5 to cover its first game involving an SEC team. It’s about time, really, considering more than half the conference is ranked, and nearly the entire SEC West is placed among the top 17. So it’s only fitting that the SEC’s 2014 GameDay debut is…. unranked Missouri at No. 13 South Carolina?

What?

The announcement was made Sunday morning, sending college football’s premier hype machine to Columbia, S.C., for the seventh time. The Gamecocks are 3-3 in GameDay‘s six previous visits, knocking off No. 1 Alabama 35-21 and No. 6 Georgia 35-7 in its last two turns as host.

Missouri fell from No. 18 to outside the rankings this week after losing 31-27 to Indiana at home on Saturday. South Carolina moved up a spot from No. 14 to No. 13 after beating Vanderbilt 48-34, but head coach Steve Spurrier called it one of the worst wins he’s been a part of as a coach. “We’re not a very good team but we’re 3-1 somehow, and we’ve got all the voters fooled thinking we’re pretty good, I guess because we beat Georgia,” Spurrier said after the game.

Comin’ to your cit-ay, anyone?

In all fairness, there aren’t many other options. Tigers-Gamecocks represents the only ranked-on-ranked matchup on Saturday. No. 12 UCLA at No. 15 Arizona State is the best game of the week, but it’s on Thursday. Unless you want to talk yourself into No. 16 Stanford at undefeated-yet-underwhelming Washington, this was ESPN’s only choice.

The good news, though, is that the schedule ramps up from here.

Assuming No. 10 Ole Miss can beat Memphis at home on Saturday – no easy task considering how Justin Fuente’s Tigers are playing – then GameDay is all but guaranteed to make its maiden voyage to The Grove in Week 6 as the Rebels host No. 3 Alabama. Should Ole Miss lose, No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 14 Mississippi State, No. 17 LSU at No. 5 Auburn, No. 16 Stanford at No. 8 Notre Dame, No. 21 Nebraska at No. 9 Michigan State, or No. 15 Arizona State at No. 18 USC all represent attractive back-up options.

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Alabama, Oklahoma gain ground on No. 1 FSU and No. 2 Oregon in latest AP Top 25

Dak Prescott

Just as they did in Sunday’s Coaches Poll, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma inched closer to No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Oregon in the latest edition of the AP Top 25.

Florida State saw its totals dip from 1,466 to 1,439 after its 23-17 win over then-No. 22 Clemson, and Oregon slid from 1,424 to 1,400 after squeaking past Washington State 38-31. No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma gained ground, moving to 1,377 and 1,343, respectively. The Tide and Sooners also saw their first-place votes increase to six and four, respectively. Florida State led the way with 34 – down from 37 – and Oregon followed with 12 – down from 17. No. 6 Texas A&M also garnered four first-place votes after ripping SMU 58-6.

LSU dropped from eighth to 17th in the AP poll, which means the Tigers also dropped from fourth to sixth in their own division. Mississippi State moved from outside the polls to No. 14 after defeating LSU 34-29 in Death Valley. Missouri (No. 18) and Clemson (No. 22) moved out of the polls, and were replaced by the 14th-ranked Bulldogs and ACC killer East Carolina at No. 23.

The full poll:

1. Florida State – 1,439 points (34 first-place votes)
2. Oregon – 1,400 (12)
3. Alabama – 1,377 (6)
4. Oklahoma – 1,343 (4)
5. Auburn – 1,268
6. Texas A&M – 1,232 (4)
7. Baylor – 1,143
8. Notre Dame – 967
9. Michigan State – 905
10. Ole Miss – 889
11. UCLA – 806
12. Georgia – 789
13. South Carolina – 764
14. Mississippi State – 706
15. Arizona State – 702
16. Stanford – 564
17. LSU – 541
18. USC – 459
19. Wisconsin – 451
20. BYU – 376
21. Nebraska – 296
22. Ohio State – 196
23. East Carolina – 180
24. Oklahoma State – 132
25. Kansas State – 131

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Melvin Gordon’s epic day places him atop NCAA record books

Melvin Gordon

And to think it all started with a fumble.

Melvin Gordon led an all out obliteration of Bowling Green’s rushing defense in the 19th-ranked Badgers’ 68-17 rout that registered on all sorts of record books from school, to conference, to country. Let’s start with Gordon, because that’s where it all starts for Wisconsin. The junior toted the rock 13 times for a career-high 253 yards and five touchdowns. He did not touch Ron Dayne’s single-game rushing record of 339 yards, but he did set the school record for yards per carry for all Badgers with at least 10 carries in a single game, and also became the sixth Wisconsin runner to notch five touchdowns in a single game. He also pulled into a tie for the NCAA all-time record for career yards per carry with some pretty notable company.

Gordon didn’t even touch the ball until Wisconsin’s fourth offensive play – its first drive found pay dirt in just two plays – and went for no gain after he lost a fumble. His remaining 12 carries went for a scant 21.1 yards per rush.

Impressive as that is, Gordon’s 253 yards accounted for only 39 percent of Wisconsin’s rushing totals. The Badgers rumbled for a total of 644 yards, a school record and the most in the modern era (since 1946) of Big Ten football. Tanner McEvoy completed 9-of-16 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, and set a school record for single-game rushing yards by a quarterback in rushing 11 times for 158 yards and a touchdown. Corey Clement also topped the 100-yard barrier with 111 yards on 16 carries, and Dare Ogunbowale added 14 rushes for 94 yards. You know you’re having a great day when 94 yards only gets you to fourth place on your own team.

Wisconsin’s 756 yards of total offense are also a single-game school record.

The explosive day gives Wisconsin two players among the nation’s top dozen in yards per carry. McEvoy ranks eighth at 9.73 per carry (26 carries for 253 yards), and Gordon checks in at No. 12 with 9.37 yards per carry (46 for 431 yards). As a team, the Badgers now rank second nationally in rushing (359.67 yards per game) and first in yards per carry (7.82). Bowling Green dropped from 71st to 123rd nationally in rush defense.

Next up for Wisconsin: South Florida and the nation’s No. 62-ranked rush defense. Buckle up, Bulls.

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Bama’s Blake Sims, ECU’s Zeek Bigger claim Week 4 Camp honors

East Carolina v North Carolina

One player from a Power Five school and another from a Non-Power Five program have laid claim to a top weekly national honor.

As it does every Sunday, the fine folks at the Walter Camp Foundation announce its national Players of the Week.  This week, those honors go to Alabama’s Blake Sims and East Carolina’s Zeek Bigger.

Sims completed 23-of-33 passes for 445 yards and four touchdowns as the Crimson Tide defeated Florida, 42-21. Sims’ 445 passing yards were the second-highest single-game total in school history. Two of his touchdown passes went for 87 and 79 yards as the Tide improved to 4-0 to start a season for the seventh consecutive year.

Sims also became the first UA quarterback to win Camp weekly honors.

On the defensive side, Bigger posted a career-high 17 tackles — seven of which were solos — and returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown as pasted in-state rival North Carolina by the score 70-41. Bigger had 11 of his tackles in the first half.

Bigger is the first-ever ECU player, either offensively or defensively, honored by the Camp Foundation as its Player of the Week.

ECU, incidentally, has now beaten ACC teams in back-to-back weekends for the first time in school history, and have won four straight against that conference dating back to last season.  UNC has been a victim twice in that span, while North Carolina State and Virginia Tech were victims once.

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FSU’s stranglehold on coaches’ poll slips as Tide, Sooners close gap

Clemson v Florida State

Much to the delight of Alabama and Oklahoma, close calls for both Florida State and Oregon cost those two squads in the latest release of the coaches’ poll.

FSU, as it has all season, remains No. 1 even as its support slipped in the wake of the overtime win over Clemson in Tallahassee.  The Seminoles received just 36 first-place votes after receiving 50 in the Week 3 poll.

Oregon, meanwhile, saw its first-place support slip from six to three and its standing in the Top 25 slide from No. 3 to No. 4.  The No. 2 Tide collected 11 first-place votes while the No. 3 Sooners, up from No. 4 last week, grabbed 12; last week, those first-place votes were one and four, respectively.

Those were the only teams receiving first-place votes.

Auburn (No. 5), Baylor (No. 6) and Texas A&M (No. 7) remain unchanged from a week ago.  LSU’s upset loss to Mississippi State caused the Tigers to drop from No. 8 to No. 18.  MSU, meanwhile, rocketed up from unranked and second in the “others receiving votes” category to No. 16.  Notre Dame moved up to No. 8 (from No. 9) to replace LSU while Michigan State climbed back into the Top 10 at No. 9 (from No. 11)

The Top 10 is rounded out by UCLA, which at No. 10 is in the same spot it was last week.

A whopping eight SEC teams are a part of this week’s poll, including six of the seven teams from the West.  The only team from that division not in the coaches’ poll is Arkansas, which is 3-1.

Week 4 Coaches' Poll

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Maryland loses starting TE for rest of season with dislocated knee

Maryland v Syracuse

One of the more gruesome sounding and looking injuries in any sport is a dislocated knee cap.  Unfortunately for a starting member of Maryland’s offense, that very injury has befallen him.

In the win over Syracuse Saturday, Andrew Isaacs had his left leg rolled up on by his starting quarterback, C.J. Brown.  The collision triggered an injury that will cost the tight end the remainder of the 2014 season.

“It’s really difficult,” Brown said. “I made a cut inside. I heard him yell. I got up and I saw his knee and I just started waving for the training staff to come over. Dislocated knee, that’s bad.”

The Terps are hopeful that Isaacs didn’t suffer any type of nerve damage.

“My hats off to him,” head coach Randy Edsall said, “because that’s a tough injury. Just to see how he was responding out there. He was just more worried about how he was going to get back and how he was going to come back stronger, and more worried about his teammates than worried really about himself.”

Isaacs is the Terps’ starting tight end, but has just one catch on the season. The sophomore will likely be eligible for a medical redshirt season as the injury occurred in the fourth game of the year, meaning he’ll fall within the 20-percent threshold — the NCAA rounds up — of games played that triggers waiver eligibility.

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‘A little bruised’ and ‘sore,’ Blake Sims says shoulder’s ‘very fine’

Florida Atlantc v Alabama

It appears Alabama’s first bye week is coming at a most opportune time.

At the end of a third-quarter scramble in the Tide’s win over Florida, Blake Sims landed awkwardly and injured his right (throwing) shoulder.  The starting quarterback was taken to the locker room for further examination but subsequently returned to both the sidelines and the game.

Following the win, Sims attempted to downplay the severity of the injury.

“It’s very fine,” Sims said. “Just a little bruised. I’m going to get with the training staff and try to get better and let the team know I’m good. I’m going to come out against Ole Miss (Oct. 4) and try to win the game. …

“I’ll be all right. I’m going to get with the training staff and ice it, ice it, ice it.”

Sims’ head coach, though, said the off weekend will prove to be beneficial for Sims as it appears the player will be somewhat limited this week in practice.

“It will probably be something that’s sore for him for a while,” said Nick Saban. “Hopefully that second week he’ll be able to get back to normal in practice.”

Sims, incidentally, suffered the injury in the midst of one of the greatest passing performances in school history.

His 445 yards were the second-most in school history, behind only Scott Hunter’s 484 in a 1969 loss over Auburn.  It was also just the second 400-yard game ever for a Tide quarterback.

A whopping 272 yards of that total came in the first quarter alone, while 202 for the game — and three of his four passing touchdowns to boot — went to stud wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Speaking of Cooper, and while we’re here, Cooper had 45 receptions for 736 yards and four touchdowns last season in 12 games played.  This season, and through four games, Cooper has 43 catches for 655 yards and five touchdowns.

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Jimbo ‘hopes and believes Jameis will learn from this’

Jameis Winston

For the first time, Jameis Winston‘s off-field actions very nearly cost his football team on it as Florida State escaped with an overtime win over Clemson.

With the one-game suspension for the reigning Heisman winner in the books, and with the Seminoles’ nation’s best 19-game winning streak still intact, Winston’s head coach is hoping the young quarterback has — finally — learned his lesson.  And that this is the last issue for the duration of however much longer Winston stays in Tallahassee.

“At the end of the day we felt like the one game made the most sense, and I chose to keep that process internal,” Jimbo Fisher said according to USA Today‘s Dan Wolken. “Now he’s served that punishment and he’s ready to move forward.

“You never know the pace kids learn or why they make mistakes, but I hope and believe Jameis will learn from this and use better judgment and his language and decision-making and respect for everything will continue to grow.”

Based on the most recent evidence available, though, Fisher’s getting ahead of himself as his player’s still behind the learning curve.

During pregame warm-ups ahead of the game with the Tigers, the suspended Winston showed up in full football gear. Fisher was not impressed, or pleased, with that development as the perturbed head coach promptly punted the player’s arse back into the locker room and out of uniform.

Plain and simple, Winston just doesn’t get it. At least not yet and even with a suspension that could very well have extinguished the hopes FSU entertained in becoming back-to-back champs.

Hopefully at one point the light switch will come, but right now Winston’s completely in the dark from the neck up.

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No. 1 Florida State’s OT escape highlights a crazy Saturday

Deshaun Watson,Eddie Goldman

Week 4 of the 2014 college football season offered 55 games, and exactly one of them featured a ranked team taking on a fellow ranked team. If you thought that guaranteed a dull day, well, you don’t know college football.

NO. 1 FLORIDA STATE SURVIVES CLEMSON IN OT

Florida State looked every bit like a team playing without the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, as Sean Maguire was sacked five times and threw two interceptions. The Clemson defensive line dominated, limiting the Seminoles to minus-12 rushing yards in regulation (key phrase: in regulation), as the Tigers’ own backup Deshaun Watson (296 total yards, one touchdown, no turnovers) guided the Tigers to a 17-10 fourth-quarter lead. Florida State tied it when Rashad Greene caught a 74-yard catch-and-stroll touchdown after a Clemson defender fell down, but Clemson appeared headed toward the upset after Maguire’s interception gave the Tigers the ball at the FSU 24. But Clemson fumbled on its second play, opened overtime by getting stuffed on a 4th-and-1 (did we mention kicker Ammon Lakip missed 2-of-3 field goals) and closed the night by letting Karlos Williams move the required 25 yards in two plays to give Florida State the season-saving 23-17 win.

Have fun sleeping tonight, Clemson.

BUT NO. 2 WASN’T MUCH BETTER

Marcus Mariota completed 21-of-25 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns and added 58 rushing yards to lead No. 2 Oregon to a 38-31 win at Washington State. The rest of the Ducks’ offense? Fifteen touches for 15 yards. (All numbers approximate.) Oregon averaged an un-Duck-like 4.1 yards per carry, and allowed the Cougars to throw for 436 yards and rush for 63 more. And to top it off, it took the officials ruling this 3rd-and-13 pass  in Oregon territory on Washington State’s would-be tying drive as nothing but good, clean defense to clinch the win.

MISSISSIPPI STATE TAKES DOWN NO. 8 LSU

It’s not often you see a 34-29 decision described as a blowout, but that’s what this felt like. Mississippi State built a 34-10 lead over No. 8 LSU and outgained the Tigers by 140 yards – their 570 yards were the most LSU allowed an opponent since the pre-Nick Saban era – and generally whipped their hosts up front. But then LSU backup signal caller Brandon Harris caught fire, hitting 6-of-8 throws for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and all of a sudden a 24-point game saw LSU throwing into the end zone for a chance to win the game. It was intercepted, and Dan Mullen moved to 3-21 against ranked teams, snapping a 15-game losing streak, and Mississippi State became the first non-No. 1 ranked team to win a night game in Death Valley during the Les Miles era.

NO. 4 OKLAHOMA BEATS WEST VIRGINIA, FINDS A RUNNING BACK

America, meet freshman running back Samaje Perine. Playing for an injured Keith Ford, Perine carried 32 times for 242 yards and four touchdowns to power No. 4 Oklahoma past West Virginia, 45-33. His touchdowns pulled OU into a 17-17 tie, gave the Sooners a 31-24 lead, and then a 38-27 lead, and then put the game away at 45-27.

NO. 2 ALABAMA BLASTS FLORIDA, 42-21

You get the feeling that if Alabama didn’t turn the ball over four times, this would have had a 40-point final margin. Florida took a 14-7 lead in the middle of the first quarter thanks to two early turnovers by the Tide, but Alabama erupted from there, ending the game on a 35-7 run and absolutely blowing the Gators off the stat sheet. Blake Sims threw for 445 yards and four touchdowns, Amari Cooper caught 10 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns, and Derrick Henry added 111 rushing yards and a score, as Alabama outgained Florida 645-200. Yep, Cooper outgained the Fighting Muschamps by himself, and nearly outscored them, too.

MISSOURI LOSES TO INDIANA, UNDOES SEVEN YEARS OF SEC DOMINANCE

Missouri left the Big 12 North, and then promptly turned the SEC East into the Big 12 North. The 18th-ranked Tigers lost to Indiana at home on Saturday, 31-27, after blowing a 27-24 lead on a D’Angelo Roberts touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining. It’s never a good thing for your SEC championship chances when you allow Indiana to throw for 252 yards while also outrushing you by 69 yards, right?

SPURRIER RIPS NO. 14 SOUTH CAROLINA’S 48-34 WIN OVER VANDY

Vanderbilt – 37-7 losers to Temple earlier this year – held a 14-0 lead over No. 14 South Carolina in the first quarter, and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Steve Spurrier was quite pleased.

THINGS GET TESTY IN LINCOLN AS NO. 24 NEBRASKA WINS REUNION WITH MIAMI You have to really piss off the locals to get booed off the field in Lincoln. Or, be the Miami Hurricanes. Ameer Abdullah rushed 35 times for 229 yards and two touchdowns as the Cornhuskers rallied from a 14-7 first half deficit and never trailed in the second half, but nine Miami penalties and a general touchy-feely nature led to the ‘Canes getting booed out of the most welcoming house in college football as Nebraska won, 41-31.

OFFENDED BY MICHIGAN’S OFFENSE, MOTHER NATURE FLOODS THE BIG HOUSE It’s clear by now that Brady Hoke has no idea how to construct an offense without Denard Robinson, and it’s also abundantly clear by now that Mother Nature is tired of sitting around and waiting for the Wolverines to get it together. Michigan accumulated 4.4 yards per pass, 3.3 yards per rush and a grand total of three points in a 26-10 loss to Utah. And then this happened during the fourth quarter:

HOW’S THIS FOR A NIGHTCAP? ARIZONA BEATS CAL ON HAIL MARY California led Arizona 31-13 entering the fourth quarter. It wasn’t enough. The Wildcats launched a mad rally, but the Golden Bears’ lead appeared safe at 45-30 with five minutes remaining. The Wildcats notched two more touchdowns to pull within 45-43 after the Cal offense sputtered, but all they had to do to earn the first Pac-12 win of the Sonny Dykes era was stop a simple Hail Mary. Surely they could do that, right?

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Marcus Mariota near perfect in Oregon’s underwhelming defeat of Wazzu

Marcus Mariota

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota looked every bit the Heisman front-runner he is purported to be on Saturday night, and he had to be as No. 2 Oregon squeaked past Washingon State 38-31 in Pullman.

Mariota completed 21-of-25 passes, including every one of his last 14 throws, for 329 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions, while sprinkling in 13 rushes for 58 yards. It’s a good thing for the Ducks that their quarterback was as good as he was, because they would have lost otherwise. Mariota was sacked six times, and the Ducks ran for an un-Oregon-like 4.2 yards per carry on 42 tries. This was against a Washington State team that ranks 84th nationally in rushing defense.

Connor Halliday completed 43-of-63 passes for 436 yards and four touchdowns, and the Cougars pounded out 17 rushes for 63 yards. The Four Horsemen would be proud.

Washington State scored first and led 14-7 after one quarter, but the Fighting Mariotas took a 21-14 lead before Holliday notched an equalizer to tie it at 21 at the half. Oregon took a 28-21 lead into the fourth quarter, and then broke serve by forcing a Washington State field goal to open the fourth quarter.

Washington State forced a 31-31 tie after Halliday hit River Cracraft from five yards out with 8:57 remaining, but Oregon pulled ahead again with Mariota’s fifth passing touchdown of the night, this one a six-yarder to Keanon Lowe. The Cougars were driving for a potential tie when facing a 3rd-and-13 at the Oregon 38 when this play you see below was ruled incomplete with no flag drawn. You be  the judge.

Halliday was sacked on the next play, and that would be that. Washington State never touched the ball again, and Oregon held on for the 38-31 win.

The Ducks take next week off before hosting a fellow 4-0 club in Arizona on Thurs., Oct. 2, while Washington State (1-3) is back in action at Utah on Saturday.

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No. 1 Florida State mounts improbable rally, stuns No. 22 Clemson in OT

Karlos Williams, Robert Smith, Tony Stewart

Let us recount the ways No. 22 Clemson could have beaten No. 1 Florida State Saturday night in Tallahassee:

  • Not under-throw a wide-open tight end on third-and-goal on the first drive of the game.
  • Not miss the ensuing field goal.
  • Not snap the ball over your quarterback’s head while knocking on the door of another touchdown, moving from the four-inch line to the 24.
  • Not missing that ensuing field goal.
  • Not having your defensive back fall down in front of Florida State’s best receiver, allowing an otherwise silent Rashad Greene to stroll in for a game-tying 74-yard touchdown grab.
  • Not fumbling the ball at the Florida State 14 with 1:36 to play, missing a chance at a game-winning touchdown or field goal.
  • Not running the ball on fourth-and-1 against a stacked box in overtime.

Clemson did every one of those things, and thereby turned a 17-10 fourth-quarter lead into a 23-17 overtime loss to Florida State.

The obvious story was the continued struggle of Florida State quarterback Sean Maguire, playing for the suspended Jameis Winston, and the corresponding dominant effort of the Clemson defensive front. Maguire completed 21-of-39 passes for 305 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Take away the 74-yard gift and add in the six sacks for 49 yards and you get a more accurate representation of Maguire’s first start: 182 yards on 43 called pass plays, good for 4.2 yards per attempt, with two interceptions. Oh, and Florida State also ran for minus-12 yards in regulation.

Cole Stoudt started the game for Clemson, played the first three series, and was not seen again. That was partly of his own doing – Clemson did not score in his time on the field – but mostly it was due to the play of his freshman backup Deshaun Watson. He accounted for 296 yards of total offense and one touchdown with no turnovers. Considering the play of the Clemson defensive line, there’s a chance he’d have been the best quarterback on the field even with a certain Heisman winner in action.

After trading field goals to open the game, D.J. Howard powered in from one-yard out to give the Tigers a 10-3 lead with 5:56 remaining in the first half, a lead it would take into halftime. Florida State opened the second half with the ball and put together without a doubt its best possession of the half, moving 68 yards in nine plays, setting up a Mario Pender one-yard run to tie the game with 11:05 remaining in the third quarter. Clearly buzzing after his halftime talk with the coaching staff, this drive was the only time Maguire looked the part of a major college starter, connecting on 6-of-7 throws for 53 yards. Again, take out this drive and the touchdown, and Maguire’s 36 other called passes registered a total of 129 yards.

Watson put Clemson on top again at 17-10 with a two-yard run four minutes into the second half, which Florida State equalized when Maguire found a wide open Greene for a 74-yard catch-and-jog.

Clemson appeared to be in perfect shape to win the game after Maguire airmailed a pass into the arms of Jadar Johnson, which he returned 24 yards to the Florida State 26.

And now we are into the portion of the game where Florida State defensive lineman Eddie Goldman wrecked everything in sight, including the hopes of every Clemson fan in existence. After an eight-yard run by Watson on first down, Goldman forced a Davidson fumble at the Seminoles’ 14, thereby doing just about the only thing possible to keep Florida State from losing.

On the opening possession of overtime, Goldman sacked Watson for a loss of four on second down, and then created the disruption that allowed a host of Seminoles to stuff Adam Choice for no gain on fourth-and-1 to end Clemson’s chance in overtime. Two plays later, Karlos Williams rumbled into the end zone for the game-winning score.

With the win, Florida Stats has obviously survived the Winston suspension, and seemingly will be more galvanized than ever in its drive to repeat. The Seminoles are now officially the clear favorites to win the ACC, and thus become the ACC’s representative in the College Football Playoff. There are hurdles to cleared between now and then, a home date with No. 9 Notre Dame on Oct. 18, and a Thursday night trip to Louisville on Oct. 30, and two six-point wins in its only two games against competent opponents suggest this is not the Florida State juggernaut of a year ago. But a betting man would say this is the closest Florida State and its 19-game winning streak come to defeat until January.

For Clemson, what can you even say? The Tigers will never have a better shot at their first win over an AP No. 1. The schedule gets breezy from here, but that feels like hollow consolation for a team that’s 1-2 and has seen any realistic hopes of a championship evaporate before the end of September. This was a loss every Clemson fan, player and coach will try – and fail – to forget.

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No. 2 Oregon in a dog fight with Washington State, tied 21-21 at the half

Marcus Mariota

No. 2 Oregon is at the Palouse tonight for a date with Washington State, and it’s got a problem on its hands. The Ducks and Cougars are tied 21-21 at the half, and this has every bit the feel of a game headed to the wire.

Oregon’s offensive line has struggled – mightily – to block Washington State and its 84th-ranked rush defense, producing an un-Oregon-like 45 rushing yards on 14 carries in the first half. The problem for Oregon is that when Marcus Mariota is not perfect, it has no chance. Mariota is 7-of-10 for 165 yards with three touchdowns while also leading the Ducks on the ground with eight carries for 24 yards.

Oregon has accumulated 150 yards on its three touchdown plays, and just 60 on the other 21.

Connor Holliday has thrown for 261 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-41 passing, and the Cougars have held their own on the ground with 37 yards on nine carries. Our astute readers will now note that Washington State has doubled up Oregon’s play count through one half, 50-24.

Oregon gets the ball to open the second half.

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No. 4 Oklahoma discovers stud RB during 45-33 victory over WVU

Samaje Perine

The Oklahoma Sooners haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2010 when DeMarco Murray eclipsed the benchmark. Freshman Samaje Perine looked like he could be the next Sooners running back to overtake the mark after his 242-yard performance Saturday against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Oklahoma rode Perine to a 45-33 victory in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Perine got the start due to a foot injury to sophomore Keith Ford. After Perine’s 34-carry, four-touchdown performance, Ford may not have a starting job to come back to once he’s fully healthy in a couple weeks.

Don’t look now but my OU Sooners just discovered another Heisman quality back, Samaje Perine, freshman tank. Welcome to national stage, kid.

— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) September 21, 2014

Bob Stoops on Samaje Perine: "He’s gonna be special."

— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 21, 2014

The freshman running back helped establish an identity for the Sooners as the team sputtered on offense initially. The realization eventually came to the Sooners coaching staff that they had a 243-pound running back in the backfield who was gaining chunks of yards each time he was handed the ball. And once that realization was made, Perine took over the game.

Of course, any good running back has plenty of help from his offensive line. Oklahoma’s offensive line is highly talented and skilled. Three seniors — left guard Adam Shead, left tackle Tyrus Thompson and right tackle Daryl Williams — set the tone and dominated against West Virginia. Oklahoma ran for 301 total yards.

Perine has been outstanding tonight, but Oklahoma’s OL is bringing it, too. Making life a lot easier on him.

— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 21, 2014

As Perine ran wild, it developed into the same old story for West Virginia. The Mountaineers are good enough on offense to win against talented opponents, but their defense continually disappoints.

Whereas Oklahoma showed it doesn’t have to play its best game to still win a game easily against a conference opponent.

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